Back to Writing / 11-08-2005

Click any image to view the pop-up gallery slide show.

Bay Area photographer Collin Rae has a hardcore foot fetish and an alt-softcore female fetish. Combine this with his sci-fi infatuation, darkly creative mind's eye, and skillful painting with light, and the visual results are eerie and beautiful. After your interviewer declined to send him photographs of her own feet on the grounds of journalistic objectivity (ahem), Collin spoke with us about his visions of fembots and their perfect peds.

Click to view gallery
Sez G: Which came first for you: hot women, sci-fi, a foot fetish or photography? When did you eventually unite all four?

Collin Rae: Excellent question! First, the foot fetish. I realized when I was 4 or 5 that I loved bare feet. I would take my babysitter's socks off, tickle their feet and stare at their bare soles. I never looked back from there!

Then came sci-fi and horror. My dad was a true sci-fi and horror film buff. From as early as I can remember, we would all sit together on Saturday afternoons and watch the local horror movie shows as well as TV shows like Star Trek, Space 1999, The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, etc.

Of course when I hit a certain age it was impossible to not look at hot barefoot girls. This total awareness happened at the same time I was watching Sci Fi films…of course I was noticing the women in those films.

Photography started for me when I got my first 35mm SLR in 1982. It would be two years before I pointed that camera at the bare feet of girls I dated or hung around with. Thirteen years later, I started to develop the work that I'm doing now.

Sez G: Ah, evolution! Where are you based and how involved are you in the "scene?"

Collin Rae: For the last year and a half, I've been based in the San Francisco Bay Area (Treasure Island, actually). Before that I spent my time in Los Angeles. LA was the birthplace of what I'm doing photographically. It has an amazing fetish scene as well as some of my favorite photographers.

As far as "Scene" involvement.. well, I guess I know a lot of people in and around fetish and alt-softcore worlds, so that makes me part of the scene in some way. Really, though, I'm a bit of a recluse most of the time. I'd rather be home watching old movies than out at some over-crowded club or event.

Click to view gallery
Sez G: You use a lot of eerie lighting in your shoots. What's the set-up processes for it? Do you concept the lighting first, just start staging it until it feels right, try a bunch of different colors throughout the shoot…

Collin Rae: Well, I always head out to lighting stores, hardware stores, or anywhere I can find good colored light bulbs. The set up is quite involved really…anywhere from 9-15 lights surrounding the model or models. The lights are between 100-150 watts, so they need to be close to the model's skin.

Also I've learned through the years that certain skin types react better to certain colors, so there is a brief period before any shoot when I'm just trying to figure out which lights react well to which models skin.

After that, it's all about moving the models and the lights around as needed for the shoot, making sure the colors are nice and the light is even, and getting the angles and images I'm seeing in my mind.

Sez G: Though you shoot a lot of beautiful women, many are presented as detached, even when in seductive poses. You often also capture them at really unique angles that make them look almost inhuman. How do the visions for these images come about and how much coaxing do you have to do to capture that moment?

Collin Rae: I believe the detachment comes from the almost cinematic approach I take when dealing with the model's eyes and points of vision. I'll often have them looking at something off camera, looking at each other, or even have their eyes closed. I don't want to be the focus of their attention…I'd rather have them inside themselves or each other, instead of thinking about me being there.

I also believe the angles to be more cinematic in nature. I really try to get in there and focus on the particular pose or activity from a vantage point that is not really within the normal human gaze. It's important to me for the views to be from an alternative vantage point, and the camera becomes its own eye. The "inhuman" looking angles are from watching wayyyy too many old sci-fi, horror and Giallo films.

Click to view gallery
Sez G: Where do you find your models and what's your relationship like with them? Is there a certain kind of woman that's drawn to your work?

Collin Rae: I find models all over, and they find me. I've worked with a pretty huge network of people by now, and my reputation seems to be very good. I get a lot of referrals and such. I'll also ask girls I see once in a while... and hand them my card. While this is hit or miss, it's definitely worthwhile.

As for my relationship with them, it really depends on the individual model. Some have become very, very good friends, while others remain just as models I've worked with. Both situations work fine for me; I just want to take the pictures. It seems to me that a lot of different types of women are drawn to my work, from suburban housewives with a twist, to younger "alternative" type girls. And I'm cool with shooting all different types to be sure. You never know who is gonna have amazing feet.

Sez G: Speaking of the alternative types, you do a lot of photo sets with the notoriously dark and kinky ladies of SuicideGirls, FatalBeauty and EroticBPM. What are these shoots like?

Collin Rae: They're generally a real kick, cause we all kind of know each other and just have a damn good time with it. It's a pretty small world, that of the "alt-softcore scene," so you get to know people really well. I now limit that kind of work to FatalBeauty, since the idea of the "internet set" isn't really that appealing to me. I enjoy focusing on single images more than a set of photos. As for the kink aspects…I'll tell you, the kinkiest people are where you would least expect 'em.

Sez G: Are you mainly an online artist or do you do gallery shows? How does your work translate from print to web and vice versa?

Collin Rae: I'm both, really, and I also appear in publications from time to time. It's perfect; the work fits in wherever it needs to. I must admit that gallery shows are the most satisfying because you get to be with people while they are responding to your images…it's immediate and much more personal.

Click to view gallery
Sez G: You've done a bunch of CD covers. What kind of music do you like? How do you hook up these gigs and how much creative liberty do you usually have when designing the art?

Collin Rae: These types of jobs are kind of few and far between. It really works out when the label will just license a few photos for a particular project; other times I've shot specifically for a project. I never really have any say in the design of the records, which, as you can imagine, can be somewhat challenging to say the least.

As far as music I like...well that's a really crazy question that I could spend too much time on. I like everything from 20th century classical music and electronics to Japanese Noise to 60's free jazz to kraut rock from the 70's, current "indie rock," Italian, Spanish and German soundtrack music from the 60's and 70's…. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to music. I spent my youth touring in bands on, what was considered at the time, "really cool" record labels.

Sez G: Speaking of crazy questions, I have to ask: Are you still selling space on your hand for people to have their names tattooed? Have you had a lot of takers?

Collin Rae: Yes I am. I've had 10 takers and counting. I hope to fill my hands in the next couple years.

Sez G: Other than that, what's next for you?

Collin Rae: Hmm, that's always the question one asks himself... at the moment I'm working with Eric Kroll on a couple projects. I'm hoping to exhibit work more around the country and world. We'll see where it all goes from there.

To learn more about Collin Rae, visit

Collin Rae - by Sez G.